This is our update at the NBA playoff picture and how it relates to the Utah Jazz.
What happened Thursday
The Jazz did their part to stay in the playoff race by beating Dallas 119-112 on the road. The Hornets blew out the Grizzlies 140-79, but that has no bearing on the playoff race as Memphis is tied for dead last in the West. The Rockets made it seven wins in a row with a tight overtime win over the Pistons 100-96. Houston now holds a 4.5 game lead over the Warriors and is the hottest team in the league down the stretch. The Pelicans outshot the Lakers 128-125, and this was one of the rare instances where Utah fans probably wanted Los Angeles to win. Finally, the Kings took care of the Hawks 105-90, but they're already officially out of the playoff race.
How this affects the Jazz
At the end of Thursday's games, the Jazz remain in eighth place in the Western Conference race, tied with Minnesota but currently losing the head-to-head tiebreaker, and hold a two-game lead over ninth-place Denver. However, they're just a tantalizing 1.5 games out of fourth place and home court advantage in the first round.
The only Thursday game that had a big impact on Utah's playoff hunt was the Lakers losing to the Pelicans. A loss does put L.A. one game closer to mathematical elimination from playoff consideration, which doesn't break the heart of too many Jazz fans. But the Lakers are 9.5 games behind Utah and don't really pose a threat to Utah's playoff chances. However, a New Orleans loss would have given the Jazz an opportunity to catch up as both teams would have had 31 losses. Unfortunately, the Pelicans maintain their hold on fourth place in the West for the time being.
Friday is a big day to watch, however, as the Jazz, Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Thunder and Trail Blazers all play.
FiveThirtyEight says the Jazz have an 88 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Remaining Jazz games
Friday, March 23, at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m. MDT
Sunday, March 25, at Golden State, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 28, vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 30, vs. Memphis, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 1, at Minnesota, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, April 3, vs. L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 5, vs. L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 8, at L.A. Lakers, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 10, vs. Golden State, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, April 11, at Portland, 8:30 p.m.